What I Would Say To High School Me

Two things happened over the weekend that inspired me to write this…

I watched Season 4 Episode 11 of One Tree Hill this weekend where everyone reflects on high school and talks about their futures. They discuss their fears, what drives them and what they hope to do before finishing high school. All the important stuff to a 17-year-old kid. The teacher wrote five words on the board to classify the students during class…

  • Geek
  • Prom Queen
  • Loner
  • Jock
  • “Friendly” aka slut

The second was March 24, 1984…34 years ago, five high school strangers sat in a library for a Saturday detention spilling their hearts out. They shed tears. They told secrets. They found out they had more in common than they thought. The movie I am referring to is none other than brat pack classic, The Breakfast Club. 34 years ago, this brilliant letter was written…

Dear Mr. Vernon, 

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a Brain…and an Athlete…and a Basket Case….a Princess…and a Criminal. Does that answer your question? 

Sincerely yours,
The Breakfast Club 

Notice the two trends here? We are talking about stereotypes. That pretty much is high school in a nutshell.

One of the things that baffles me about society and a lot of parents is how easily they forget how difficult of an age it is between 14-18. You are stuck somewhere between child and adult. You get some freedom, but you’re still under parental control. As each year passes in high school, you find yourself with a little larger leash.

All the while, you are still trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in. Chances are, you are probably more emotionally unstable than you will be during any of your other years of life. You want the world to think you’re confident and don’t care what others think, but deep down in places you don’t talk about, you really do. At least that is most of us.

It doesn’t really matter what label you fall under, these things apply to most people. If you are reading this and you are a high school student…

I want you to know that this isn’t the end. This isn’t even the beginning. The world changes so much after high school and you can literally be anything or anyone you want to be. This is your prelude to who you are or who you become. Enjoy the ride. Fuck what people think. Easier said than done probably, but try your best.

Freshman

Stop worrying. You care too much about fitting in. Stop being embarrassed about being yourself. Go have fun. No matter what happens, you’ll be fine. 

I was at a new school with a new group of people. Most of these kids had been going to school together for 9-10 years. While I knew some of the people in school, most of them were foreign to me. Hell, even the people I “knew,” I didn’t truly know them. They were just another familiar face.

I didn’t partake in a lot of extras except baseball. Even then, I didn’t really hang out with a lot of people from the team. I didn’t go to a single dance. I was terrified of rejection from girls. I went to just one football game. My friend tried to introduce me to a girl. I am sitting there like “you come here often?” I was the epitome of awkward.

Sophomore

It’s not you. It’s them. People come and go and that’s ok. You’re also not the bad influence parents think you are. You’re just a high school kid doing high school things. 

I am the youngest of three and the only one with a penis. Therefore, as my mom puts it…

“The first child swallows a quarter and you take them to the ER.”

“The second child swallows a quarter and you just say it’ll come out one end or the other.”

“The third child swallows a quarter and you just expect them to make change.”

Needless to say, my parents weren’t very concerned with how I spent my Friday and Saturday nights. There was transparency. They knew I started drinking on weekends. They knew I wanted to have a social life. Like they said, they would rather me drink and them know me and my friends would be ok. I started having parties and my friends and I would drink. I quickly developed a reputation among certain parents who thought I was an awful child and my parents were terrible people because they allowed drinking. Apparently, they don’t think that anymore as I have turned out to be a decent human being. Funny how that works out. I remember thinking they were idiots then. Now I just laugh about it.

By having parties, I also learned that people use you. People aren’t your real friends. That was my biggest struggle. I would get so pissed if I wasn’t invited somewhere with people I associated with. Most of that changed in February that year when I started dating my wife.

Junior

Let the past go. 

I spent a lot of time junior year worried so much about friends I had lost. Looking back, why? It’s not like I talk to most of the people I hung out with high school anyway.

I spent a lot of time wondering if I made the wrong decision quitting baseball. Although, I was happier not playing. I struggled with the what could have been and not what is. It was something I never really talked about, but it was always weighing on me. Let’s be honest, I wasn’t going pro in it. Why worry?

Senior

You’ll be ok. Try to live for the moment. 

I know how cliche’ it is, but fuck it flew by.

I wasn’t the most diligent student. I don’t exactly remember when I received my acceptance letter to Nicholls. It was the only school I applied to. I was worried I wasn’t going to go to college. Even if I did, I was worried I would flunk out (1.8 first semester woooot wooooot). I almost did. Life just has a way of working itself out sometimes.

In the end

You’re a teenager. Have fun. Worry about tomorrow later. I had friends who got into serious trouble in high school. They wound up ok. I had friends who smoked entirely too much weed and enjoyed other drugs too much. They wound up ok. I was worried too much about other people and drank a lot. I turned out ok. Despite what your teachers and parents say that high school determines your future, look at me.

I had a 2.0 heading into senior year. My extracurriculars involved shot gunning beers, downing bottles of Jagermeister and puking or passing out. Whatever came first. Usually the latter. These words aren’t a ticket to ruin your life by doing something absolutely insane, but have fun. You’ll be ok. It’s high school.

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